IN BANANA REPUBLIC?
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published July 26, 2007
Big problems with last year's elections (Election embroiled in controversy) should have been a lesson on how to avoid controversy this year and make sure that all goes according to the rules. You would think so, wouldn’t you?
Not in the EAST
LINDEN ESTATES HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC. in
It took nearly a week before the clique -- Lawrence Rosen, Willis Keller, and Kenneth Kral -- found the solution to "their" problem. They "found" some uncounted votes, claiming that there was a clerical error that changed the "outcome" of the election. Therefore, they removed David Parker, who had officially been announced as winner by Tom Lyons on election night, from his rightful seat on the board. They didn't want Parker there in the first place, according to their comments!
And in order not to have to answer any questions by owners they never held an organizational meeting, as required by the bylaws. They rather dealt with the issue in private -- avoiding public scrutiny!
After they tainted
the voting records by "finding" clerical errors and adding uncounted
ballots, they tried to cover their tracks by meeting with the election
committee. Obviously too late! And if Kenneth Kral thought that votes were
miscounted, he should have been the one filing for election arbitration. After
the official announcement of the result of the election by Tom Lyons at the
meeting, the election was officially over. Anybody who thought that mistakes
were made should have challenged the announced results by filing for election
arbitration, according to FS 720.311. PERIOD!
but an arbitrator has the right to change the results of an officially
announced HOA election!
And when David Parker, definitely not fooled by such an alleged "voting discrepancy," failed to voluntarily give up his seat on the board, the clique called attorney Robert Tankel for help. Tankel fired off a letter to warn David Parker that legal action would be taken against him if he doesn’t quickly step down.
Please see the scanned version of Tankel's letter -- definitely a work of art:
I can only hope that Tankel relied on statements from those three board members when writing this letter. Otherwise, he plainly "assumes" things he doesn't know as a fact and is willing to cover up for election shenanigans of board members who are unwilling to concede that one member of their clique was ousted by the vote of the homeowners!
Tankel’s letter is in my opinion a letter of intimidation. Tankel tries to scare the homeowner -- definitely not a letter that tries to explain facts. It's anyway very hard to explain why votes "found" after the counting and official announcement of the result should be counted, especially if the "finder" is the candidate who lost in the "regular" election. Arbitration rulings by the DBPR definitely paint a different picture!
Threatening letters like that are very common in homeowners' associations and certain lawyers feel they can run roughshod over homeowners, knowing full well that these owners normally don't have the finances to fight for their rights. And these attorneys forget that they are supposed to represent the interests of the members of the association, not the private agenda of a clique trying to run the show!
The Florida BAR should look into this in my opinion unethical behavior of these attorneys. Attorney Robert Tankel already had been suspended once before by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Florida in 2003.
This case of the "found" votes is going to election arbitration with the DBPR -- as you can imagine. It's about as ridiculous as it gets! But since the owners claiming to be the "board of directors" decided that they really are the board, the owner who has won the election and was officially announced as the new member of the board on "election night" has to file for arbitration.
What's wrong in
board members and "professionals" violate every law in the book, but
the homeowners have to pay for the mistakes!